Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series, today I’m chatting to my friend Lucy Siddall! Lucy and I where introduced over instagram and she’s been my whatsapp sober buddy ever since. She updates with how she’s doing on her not drinking diary and I can’t wait for you to read it.
Lucy Siddall is an Intersectional Feminist Coach, supporting folk in self-compassion and self-acceptance – and you can follow her on instagram to find out more!
Read on for her not drinking diary …
1.Tell me a little about yourself …
My name is Lucy, I am a 32 year old woman living in Stockholm, Sweden. I am about to launch my business as a Coach. I recently left my job in fashion to follow my dream of working with and supporting women, femmes or anyone who identifies as a woman through coaching in self-acceptance and self-compassion.
I believe passionately in self and societal acceptance of all bodies. I am also studying for my Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology.
2.Tell me a little bit of your drinking story …
I had a heightened awareness of drinking and the effect(s) excessive drinking has on both yourself and those around after seeing someone I love very much go through alcohol addiction and come out the other side. Witnessing this has had a lasting but positive effect on me as it helped me question my own relationship to alcohol. I have always enjoyed drinking but starting a few years ago I began to seriously question when, how and how much I drank.
I realised I could no longer ignore the fact that I regularly didn’t remember nights out with my friends, how I got home or the conversations I had, had. It became clear to me that there were some patterns I didn’t like. And, I was super aware it was a possibility that these patterns may escalate over time if I didn’t address them.
It was also becoming more and more obvious to me the impact it played on my mental health, specifically the anxiety I experience.
3. What led you to think differently about drinking?
I knew that alcohol was no longer (had it ever??) playing a positive role in my life. I was drinking too much and it was undoubtedly effecting my wellbeing, mental health and happiness.
Previously trying to “cut down” had actually had the OPPOSITE effect entirely. I was constantly thinking about alcohol ‘when can I drink?’, ‘can I drink this evening?’ ‘or shall I drink tomorrow?’ ‘no tonight’ ‘how much can I have?’, ‘shall I have one or two or more?’ ‘what if I have too much?’ ‘when shall I stop?’ (and on and on and on…) I was thinking about booze all the time and I didn’t want to carry on that way.
So, I started researching. A lot. Researching and reading as much as I could. Books, blogs and social media accounts that supported people in cutting down or stopping drinking. Ultimately going through all the research and data had a profound effect on me, it made it very clear that cutting down wasn’t what I needed or even wanted, only stopping was.
4. How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
It is very early days for me but I no longer have or want to have a relationship with alcohol. I understand and see it for what it is, a poisonous, addictive and dangerous drug.
Sometimes I do get seduced and tempted by the constant reminders I see everywhere from advertising (read: brain-washing) to old ingrained habits and social occasions but I actively and consciously remind myself of how alcohol affected me and how much better I feel now its no longer a part of my life.
5. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
A very good friend of mine got married this summer and prior to going I was very nervous. It was the first wedding I would ever have been to sober and I was questioning how much “fun” I would be or if I would have fun or if it was possible to enjoy a wedding sober (or, or, or). In reality, the wedding went on to be a very special one for me, for many reasons but most personal and important to me was realising and seeing it was not only possible to stop drinking all together but it was fun and great too.
I had a beautiful time, I danced, I cried, I laughed, I REMEMBERED everything. It proved to me how little I needed alcohol in my life. What I thought was my biggest challenge turned out to be my biggest lesson.
6.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
It has really opened my eyes to how much we are indoctrinated and surrounded by alcohol in our society. Ultimately alcohol is a drug yet I have had to defend myself and my reasons for becoming a non-drinker when people see I have stopped.
Alcohol is so deeply rooted in to our society that when someone who doesn’t present as an “alcoholic” stops drinking they face inappropriate social scrutiny. Its a fine line, we are sold the benefits of the drinking lifestyle from a young age, but don’t drink too much and under no circumstances become dependant, but hang on don’t stop either because there is something wrong with you if you do!
7. What benefits of cutting down on alcohol or stopping drinking have you experienced?
I feel more me, more in touch with who I am and who I want to be. Like a cloud has lifted somehow. I feel clearer and more energised and more excited about life. My mental health has improved beyond what I hoped for, and whilst my life has not suddenly become perfect now I have stopped drinking (far from it) I honestly feel better in myself than I ever have in my adult life. I feel ALL the spectrum of feelings now rather than masking them with booze.
8.Are there any resources that have helped you to cut down or stop drinking?
Books that have really helped me are Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind – which is amazing I have recommended it to so many people, she really lifts the veil on alcohol and why we are addicted to it (L’s note: I interviewed Annie Grace, you can read it here) – Allen Carr’s The Easy Way and Jason Vale’s Kick The Drink…Easily.
Connecting with other non-drinkers has also played a pivotal role in my non-drinking journey. The app Daybreak is an incredibly supportive and caring community that I would thoroughly recommend whether you want to cut down or stop. Facebook groups, blogs (you 😀), sober Instagram accounts and podcasts such as HOME Podcast which I love.
9. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
I always (or almost always) start my day with meditation, the type varies from day to day however I am learning Vedic Meditation soon so that will become my daily practice. It is a very powerful tool and support for me in my life. I do a short mantra practice and depending on the day I might do some yoga or go to the gym or rest. I love to drink hot water with lemon first thing too, a zingy and refreshing way to start the day!
10. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
Meditation is without a doubt my most habitual ritual.
11. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free & not drinking) at the weekend?
To wake up with no hangover or fuzzy head. This just does not grow old. Knowing that I will be able to get up and spend my day however I please. Whether its productive or not I LOVE knowing I will not be hungover
12. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
I am working on living mindfully in all and every part of my life. This is an ongoing practice!!
13. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
Self-acceptance and self-compassion, to say I am obsessed is an understatement. I believe in these concepts to my very core and am actively working to help others achieve the same thing too.
14.Any go-to people we should follow for inspiration? (Health, Fitness, Life, travel you name it!)
For sobriety I love Hip Sobriety, Holly’s voice is so refreshing, real and vulnerable.
15. And finally, thinking differently about your relationship with alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
Seeking out a community has been crucial for me. The majority of it has been online but knowing I have the support there has been wonderful.
I am very fortunate in that the people closest to me have been incredibly supportive but I have also had to be selfish sometimes when I know a situation or social occasion isn’t going to be supportive of me. This is ok.
The old adage ‘knowledge is power’ is particularly relevant here too! If you want to change how you think about alcohol it won’t happen over night but you can really support yourself by researching and reading literature to help support your decision. To stop drinking for the long term you will need to change how you think about booze or you will always crave it/ think you are missing out.
Start with one of the many great resources out there don’t try to do it alone.